June 11, 2021
Dear Minister Nixon,
In partnership with the Alberta Backcountry Hunters & Anglers (Alberta BHA), and the BHA Canada Armed Forces Initiative (BHA Canada - AFI), we are writing to you regarding the lack of fishing and hunting licence incentives for veteran and active Canadian Armed Forces members, and to request that this issue be addressed.
We recognize that the Canadians who have bravely served are to thank for the freedoms which facilitate the outdoor pursuits hunters and anglers enjoy today. The Armed Forces Initiative was established as a constructive platform for serving members and veterans to involve themselves in the conservation efforts and programs of BHA. The platform also seeks to ensure that the opportunity for Canadian Forces members and veterans to hunt and fish is advanced through education, legislation, and advocacy.
Offering unique licence discounts and/or incentives to our veterans and active Canadian Forces members would not only serve as an act of gratitude, but would also attract those same people to experience and connect to the land they served to protect. The therapeutic reward of time well spent in Alberta’s backcountry adds a tremendous value to the service and sacrifice our veterans have endured. Furthermore, the opportunity to utilize the Canadian Forces and veteran community would be a useful and publicly acceptable approach to wildlife management.
By adopting such incentives, Alberta would be following the precedent set by other Canadian provinces.
- The Province of Saskatchewan began providing free hunting and angling licenses for veterans of the Canadian Armed Forces in 2019.1
- Ontario’s veteran and active Canadian Armed Forces members enjoy free fishing across the province as a token of recognition for their service.2
Veteran Affairs Canada estimates that there are 67,400 veterans residing in Alberta.3 This figure represents a significant community deserving recognition. What better way to celebrate our Canadian Armed Forces community than provide them with the merited opportunity to hunt and fish at a reduced cost?
There are several benefits for both the province and its veterans related to providing a financial incentive on hunting and fishing licenses. Some of the benefits are as follows:
- Attracting veterans to a healthy and sustainable activity
- Providing a less expensive opportunity to attain wild fish and game as a source of food
- Attracting more veterans to the mental health benefits of connecting with our lands and waters
- Expanding the military community’s participation in wildlife stewardship and conservation
- Increasing Alberta’s hunting and fishing population, in turn increasing revenues to be directed towards conservation and provincial tourism
There is a wide variety of options available when considering reasonable incentives to introduce. Examples of incentives that would represent recognition are listed but not limited to:
- Discounted annual wildlife certificate for Alberta resident veterans and serving Canadian Forces members
- Free fishing license for Canadian resident veterans and serving Canadian Forces members
- Additional Alberta resident mule deer and white-tailed deer licenses offered in CWD zones for active and veteran Canadian Forces members.
Although the grounds for this request are conveyed in this letter, by far the most compelling reason to consider this request is out of appreciation for the active and veteran members of the Canadian Armed Forces.
We strongly support the implementation of such a program, and Alberta BHA and BHA Canada – AFI are eager to participate in any consultation related to developing an appropriate plan of action.
We trust that you will give this matter due consideration and look forward to meeting with you soon.
BHA Canada – AFI Lead
Neil Keown, Chair
Alberta Backcountry Hunters & Anglers
Reference, supporting information: